Advice around groups for Mutual Aid

I’m the CEO of a company called Halo, for 1-year we’ve been connecting people up locally and we’ve learnt a LOT about how to do this well along with the common pitfalls. Below is the part of our learnings from building local communities:

1. Make groups that last

  1. Trust — A community must feel private and relevant to its members
  2. Vulnerability — You must feel like you can be yourself there
  3. Purpose — It must have a shared activity which is long-term

2. Don’ts for group size & proximity

  1. Ward-sized groups are too big, putting 4,000 people in a room makes for an excellent news-feed (Nextdoor/Facebook) but fails at point two of community building. Instead of enabling vulnerability, you can create a giant soapbox.

If you struggle to see why this is bad, imagine working in an office building of 4,000 people. You’d never meet everyone, even after years there. Aspire to build office floors, big enough to have the buzz, small enough to know everyone. ❤️

So what does good look like?

3. Do’s for group size & proximity

  1. Close enough to care — If you want a group that will last through the potential months of isolation, it needs to fill with people you can relate to. We’ve spent a long time on this, and for real bonds to be made we define a viable group as The people who live on a street I can name, OR within a 10-minute walk of where I live.

If you’re building communities that don’t fit these rules, over the next 2–3 months, you’ll see them fatigue and most likely fail. If you want the cohort data, message me. We have 1,000’s of examples.

4. Caution — A word on WhatsApp

But what if someone didn’t want to help? What if the goal was to find them all and spread fake news in a few months, please take care.

If you run a WhatsApp group, remember to invalidate your invite links monthly. If you’re the admin of a group, make sure everyone introduces, eject those that lurk. Lastly, ask to verify messages being forwarded, request a link to the information source; right now, fake news can kill.

So, what are we (Halo) doing?

  1. A Private group — secure and safe for you and those living near you
  2. Neighbour profiles — Meet your neighbours, say hi and feel connected to people in your area, no lurking users
  3. Instructions and a simple personalised invite you can print and post to letterboxes. (It takes 10 people 30-minutes each to invite the entire area)
  4. All the social-tools to keep in touch over the outbreak, and new local groups being launched each week to help (e.g. home-schooling, elderly care, send me hugs)
  5. Regular positive-reminders each week to help people feel that bit more connected

Join your group here:

We’ll all get through this together, I predict 2020 will be the year the world discovered just how wonderful the people nearby are :)

Digital and product thinking